If You Are Raising a White Child in America, Watch These Videos With Them

ADDENDUM:  Given that this story has been contextualized since this post was published, I wanted to add a couple of things.  At the time I wrote this, I did not know of the small group (4-5) of Black Hebrew Israelites who, as can be seen on video, were clearly harassing both the small group of Native Americans as well as the larger group of Covington Catholic students.  That harassing behavior appears to have influenced the subsequent actions of both  groups.  Additionally, I originally wrote that Mr. Nathan Phillips was a Vietnam veteran.  I have added the word “era” to my original post to reflect that while he served during the Vietnam War, he did not serve in Vietnam.  Other than adding that one word, I stand by my original post, even after having read much commentary and having watched a significant amount of video from other vantage points.  I believe the students from Covington Catholic acted very inappropriately on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and I believe their chaperones failed them.  

Yesterday in Washington, DC, the March for Life took place.  I know from the Twitter that lots of kids were there with lots of support from the adults that brought them to our nation’s capital in protest of a women’s right to choose.  Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham posted a photo of a group of smiling white teen boys at the march with the caption, “They are our only hope.”

Fast forward a few hours and we are seeing the ugly underbelly of “our only hope.”  A disturbing video of a group (some would say mob and they would not be wrong) of students from Kentucky’s all boys Covington Catholic High School who were attending the March for Life is making the rounds on social media channels this morning.  The boys are seen chanting and taunting and mocking and surrounding and intimidating a small group of Native Americans staging their own protest at the simultaneously held Indigenous Peoples March.

The first time I watched the video, I cried.  The second time I watched it, I resolved to show it to my ten year old and use it as a teachable moment.  The third time I watched it, I dusted off my keyboard and started researching and writing.

The older gentleman playing the drum is a Native American elder named Nathan Phillips.  Mr. Phillips is a Vietnam era veteran who lives in Omaha.  He is also the former director of the Native Youth Alliance and coordinates an annual ceremony honoring fallen Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

You can see the grace and resolve in which Mr. Phillips, known in the Native community as Uncle Nathan, continues beating his drum in the face of his teen harassers.  He does not back down, he is not intimidated, he does not debase himself or his community by engaging with these, lets call them what they are, thugs.  To the contrary, Twitter also informs me that the chant Mr. Phillips was singing was a medicine song meant to calm anger and toxicity.

Watch the video and see for yourself:

Reports from those on the scene describe that Mr. Phillips and a small group of Native Americans were leaving the Indigenous Peoples March when they came upon the group of 50-70 kids, many of whom were wearing MAGA hats and Trump gear.  Quickly, the group of Covington Catholic teens surrounded the group and started taunting them, mocking the Native chants, and hooting and hollering.

In this America where the President frequently mocks a Senator by calling her Pocahontas, none of this should surprise, but the visual of these white teens acting so hatefully, full of ugly bravado, is still jarring to me.

When we teach our children that it is acceptable to mock, taunt, intimidate, and harass, they will never Be Best.  When the adults around them cheer on bigotry and walls, that stink trickles down to the humans we are raising, as can be seen in the feverish ode to ugly these boys from Covington Catholic displayed yesterday.

If you are parenting white children, I don’t care how old they are, watch the video with them.  Teach them what is and is not acceptable behavior.  Teach them some actual history of Native Americans and how the U.S. government has treated tribes throughout its existence, and not what children are taught at Thanksgiving.

I’ve got no doubt that if you are like me, you won’t know the actual history.  There is no shame in that, as most of us were never taught it.  So, yes, it will require a bit of effort on your part.  To get you started, Google things like Wounded Knee, Trail of Tears, the Pickering Treaty, or Custer’s Last Stand.

I first got interested in researching this history when my family took a road trip through South Dakota a few years ago.  Now I regret never having written a post about that trip, but the title I was going to use still stays with me, “The Shadows of South Dakota.”  Perhaps it’s not too late.

After you’ve watched the first video with your kids, I strongly encourage you show them this one, with Mr. Phillips reflecting on the harassment he experienced yesterday perpetrated by the Covington Catholic boys:

Again, Nathan Phillips shows his humanity, the humanity lacking in those teens, wishing that they would put their energy into something more productive than mocking, taunting, and intimidating Native elders, to use their youth and energy into “making this country really great.”  The kind of great that has nothing to do with wearing red hats and participating in mob behavior.

I only hope that I can conjure the hope and grace that Nathan Phillips does when I watch these videos with my sons.  May you do the same.

If You’re Having a Miscarriage, Don’t Expect Walgreen’s Pharmacy to Help You

Last week I mentioned that I am angry all the time these days.  All.  The.  Time.  Today’s outrage comes after a casual perusal of the news.  I just learned that an Arizona woman, after being told by her physician that her body was in the midst of miscarrying her fetus, was given the option of having a surgical procedure, or taking a prescription to expel the no longer developing fetus from her body.  The woman opted for the medication.  Her pharmacist refused to fill the prescription for moral and ethical reasons.

Think about that, ladies.  Since I read about it, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  A woman was informed that her body was rejecting her pregnancy, that her fetus had no heartbeat and had stopped developing.  She would miscarry her pregnancy.  This was what was happening, regardless of anyone’s morals or ethics.  The fetus would never grow into a baby.  It is a brutal loss.

I have had four miscarriages.  One happened very, very early into the pregnancy, before I had even been to the doctor.  The other three were after I was in a doctor’s care, but all during the first trimester.  Those last three miscarriages were discovered during routine ultrasounds, when, just like this Arizona woman, the doctor detected no heartbeat.  I went in, happy and excited, I left wrecked.  Those experiences were devastating to me.

Two of my miscarriages required a D & C, dilation and curettage, a surgical procedure, per my physician.  The last one was allowed to pass through my body naturally.  Miscarriage is something I don’t write about often, but I am often surprised by how many women have experienced one, even when we don’t talk about it.  They are a painful and unacknowledged loss for many.

A day after learning that her pregnancy was not viable, which, by the way, is how the medical folks describe it in their notes, the Arizona woman made the decision to take the medication to enable her body to fully expel the undeveloping fetus.  She went to her local Walgreen’s to pick up her prescription, her seven year old son by her side.  The pharmacist on duty, after asking her if she was pregnant, refused to fill the prescription.  He explained that he was opposed to giving her the medication on ethical grounds.  The woman tried to explain her situation, despite it being none of his damn business, but he still refused.

What in the Handmaid’s Tale is happening here, ladies?

Under Arizona law, a pharmacist can decline to fill prescriptions for moral or ethical objections, but Walgreen’s has stated that if they do so, they are supposed to refer the prescription to another pharmacist on duty.  Walgreen’s has acknowledged that the pharmacist did not follow corporate protocol, as when the Arizona woman requested another pharmacist on duty help her, the man refused, instead saying he could phone the prescription in to another Walgreen’s.


BAH!  Some days I feel like I am going mad.  I hope this makes you angry.  Please tell me this makes you angry.  Ultimately, the woman got her prescription, but at a different pharmacy and on a different day.  The least of it was that she was inconvenienced.  More significant was that her grief and trauma of miscarriage worsened when a man, under legal protection, decided that a woman using a legally prescribed medication, could not miscarry her already non-viable pregnancy using pills he deemed immoral to provide.  It is madness, this America in 2018.

Where does it end?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I sure as hell know that every day is looking more and more like an America I no longer recognize.  Last week I was griping about the fact that my insurer was bought out by CVS Pharmacy, a corporation that no longer will allow me to have my prescriptions filled at Walgreen’s, my preferred pharmacy.  If I want coverage, I now need to get that at the corporation that owns my insurer.  Today, that bothers me a little less, reading about this man who made life harder for a woman in the midst of a miscarriage, but the truth is that all of it is wrong, and, increasingly, we are just rolling with the punches.

So, yeah.  Another day, another outrage.  I’m getting pretty used to this, and that terrifies me.


You can read more about this breaking news story HERE or watch an interview with the Arizona woman HERE.

There Is No Such Thing as “Accusers” Making “Allegations”

Enough with the quotation marks.  Since news dropped in the past couple of months about Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Al, Franken, John Conyers, and Roy Moore, not to mention the stories about our pussy-grabber-in-chief, I’ve seen way too many quotation marks on my social media feeds.

The punctuation is used to demean and diminish the women coming forward telling their stories about being victimized by men in positions of power who have greatly abused that power.  Here’s the thing, folks.  When you choose to put quotes around words like accuser, accusations, and allegations, you are working hard to discredit these women, along with their information and their stories.

There is no such thing as an “accuser,” only an accuser.  “Allegations” are not lodged, only allegations are lodged.


The personal opinion of strangers reading about these incidents on the Internet has no bearing on the reality that accusers have come forward, making allegations against these men ranging from poor behavior to criminal pedophilia.  They are legitimate accusers making legitimate allegations.  That does not change, even if you think they are politically motivated or part of an organized smashing of the patriarchy.

To prove my point, right here, right now, I can accuse Mickey Mouse of sexually harassing Miss Minnie.  I didn’t just “accuse” Mickey, but I did accuse him.  Regardless of how absurd my accusation may be, and whether or not you believe me as the accuser, I still made an accusation, not an “accusation.”  Your personal response to my accusation does not change the fact that I just accused Mickey of wrongdoing.

My example is preposterous, of course, but intentional.  However we feel about this cultural tipping point that is happening in America, this reckoning of mythic proportions, it is changing our landscape, one can hope for the better.  Women, and to a much lesser degree, men, are coming forward to both name their abusers and hold them accountable for their actions.  It is no longer business as usual.

Perhaps that is where the quotations marks are coming from — in general, it is hard for us humans to accept change.  Even when the status quo is rigged and wrong and in some cases, criminal, it is the status quo and provides familiarity, in the absence of anything else.  As we hurtle towards this brave new world that just might require men to not expose their penis in the work place, our collective equilibrium is off.  It will take time to adjust to that for some, but tick tock, folks.

The misuse of quotation marks to belittle someone who is attempting to right a wrong that was done to them is not helping us reach that brave new world.  It is, quite honestly, a microaggression.  Those innoculous seeming punctuation marks are a tell to the anger and outrage folks are feeling towards women who dare challenge that status quo that benefits men, and not just the famous and wealthy ones.

Check yourselves, folks, along with your punctuation.